Fern Ridge wildlife

22 07 2010

An osprey sits atop its nest and overlooks the surrounding territory.

One of the things I love about Eugene is our easy access to the great outdoors. The Fern Ridge Wildlife Area is only ten miles from downtown Eugene, yet birders have identified well over two hundred different species in the area.

On the Fourth of July I visited the Royal Avenue viewing platform. The Army Corps of Engineers publishes a seasonal checklist that describes this as “a great area for blackbirds, terns, osprey, bitterns, chats and many other marsh bird species.” Sure enough I was able to watch an osprey feeding its chicks on a nearby nest and even snap some pictures with my spotting scope.

One of the most impressive birds in the area is the American White Pelican. Small groups of pelicans were feeding on the lake and soaring gracefully overhead. The white pelicans have become more common at Fern Ridge the last few years, and with a wingspan of 8 to 9 feet are an amazing sight.

During the summer there are miles of walking trails available, many of the trails are along dikes through the marsh. As I walked along the dike through the marsh I spotted a bittern as well a several great blue herons. At one point I heard something nearby and discovered two river otters exploring the canal next to the dike.

To get to the Royal Avenue viewing platform, simply take Royal Avenue west all the way to the end. There is a small parking area and a restroom next to the locked gate. Walk about ½ mile west and you’ll see the elevated viewing platform on your left. This area can also be reached by bicycle. The bike path along West Amazon creek reaches Meadowlark Prairie at the corner of Royal Avenue and Greenhill Road. Go West on Royal two more miles to reach the Fern Ridge Wildlife Area.

Blog post by Jeff Phillips. Jeff leads canoe and rafting trips with the River House and the Campbell Center.

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